This is the year that I make peace with food.
A little secret I’m willing to share: Food is making me sick.
Perhaps I should clarify: The current conversation and information overload about and around diet, food and health is downright deafening — and it’s just dizzying enough to make me want to lay down and take a big ole’ nap. (Is it me, or is it worse than ever this May?!)
In particular: I’m so sick of fad diets, green juices, and other absurd forms of torture, special interest group/political influence on the food industry, and listening to un-credentialed and uninformed professionals confuse you about what to eat.
Do you ever hear healthcare professionals use terms like “portion-control” and “everything in moderation” and just want to grab a pint of Jim and Jerry’s and turn on Scandal? Me too. One problem is that moderation is subjective (eating bacon in moderation means once per day for some, and once a year for others)!
To be clear, the concept of “moderation” itself is the essence of everything I write; but that word can be alienating to just about everyone at this point: For most women, they’re words that are either associated with an unachievable standard of perfection, or they are just so entirely confused about what an actual portion is.
Regardless: 67% of Americans are overweight or obese, so the proof is in the gluten-free/sugar-free/dairy-free/non-GMO pudding: If this language worked, it would be working by now.
But instead of whining about it (which is what I really feel like doing … ok, it’s what I am doing right now) I wanted to write this letter to ask you this question instead: What’s your food philosophy? How can you make 2017 the year you make peace with food? For me, it’s about changing some key things about my own food habits and words I choose to use about food.
Let’s get specific. My 2017 “resolution” to have us all say and do these five things:
1. Use the word “more” more.
More vegetables. The rationale: The more you eat veggies, the greater the portion of veggies on your plate … displacing the amount of other food that is higher in calories and may not be as healthful. Plus, even if you’re adding salt to your veggies, you’ll counterbalance the negative effects of sodium by drastically increasing the amount of potassium you’re eating.
Healthy Eating Plan
More “real” fruit. There’s a misconception that fruit has to be “perfect” and “seasonal” and perhaps, “blended/juiced” into a smoothie. Not so — blending turns an otherwise healthy food into a drink that is less satisfying for most people (and causes them to overindulge later in the day). More frozen fruit works, too!
More fish. Women of child-bearing age eat 50% less fish as they should be eating, in large part due to some of the previous concerns on mercury and confusion about how this relates to pregnancy. 12oz of fatty fish per week should be the goal (2 slightly bigger servings, or 3 smaller servings per week).
Healthy Eating Trends
2. Keep it real.
The tendency to fall back on processed foods is only difficult when you’re unprepared (if you didn’t eat breakfast, you’ll want a donut in your morning meeting; if you didn’t pack a snack, you’ll go to the vending machine; if you didn’t bring nibbles for the road trip, you’ll want a drive-thru (or twelve).
Pack snacks made from real food that isn’t “diet” food: It’s food that satisfies both a craving for something indulgent, and staving off the temptation to say “screw it” and go to McDonald’s.
3. Eat dessert everyday.
Cut processed, sneaky sources of added sugar so that you can eat dessert every day. Let’s keep talking about what that looks like throughout the year — drinks, dairy products, salad dressings/soups/condiments: Anything that is a marketed “health food” has been susceptible to added sugar, so let’s keep busting these myths as we have so far! (And build recipes around dessert that are easily enjoyed in a single-serving.)
Healthy Food Trends
4. Adopt a more plant-based diet:
PLEASE NOTE: THIS DOES NOT MEAN VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN!!! It means finding alternative protein sources so that we can cut back on the amount of meat that we eat. Pulses will be the face of plant-based protein this year, so the check out the SuperCarb diet and make your own recipes with ideas from it.
5. Stress less (or not at all) about cooking. Easier said than done, right? Wrong. Do this by…
Whipping up healthy meals that can be stored in bulk: Soups, stews, and sauces are perfect examples of this. Make ’em on Sunday, nosh on ’em all week. On that note … Stock up on healthy ingredients like 100% whole grains and beans that you can add to these, and other meals.
Getting the family involved: Wednesday night dinner doesn’t need to be some iteration of a “ricotta tartlet.” Nor does it need to be deep-dish with a side of wings. Whatever you’re having — just add extra veggies and aim to introduce a new or under-used ingredient in the meal you’re making or buying (FYI: Mine for 2016 is eggplant. I love that bulbous nightshade).
Making “ASAP” (as simple as possible) your mantra (otherwise known as “actually, no, you don’t need to make that from scratch!!”): Stressed about baking brownies for your kids’ bake-sale? Buy them. Pinned every DIY- mason jar salad on Pinterest, but can’t carve out time to do it? Skip the crafty jar and make a salad in a bowl like the rest of us normal people — or you can buy that too! Need to get to the farmers market for your 100% traceable fiddlehead fern this spring? Buy some canned or frozen vegetables and get on with your life!
When it comes to eating healthfully, mindfully, and in a cost-efficient way, if something makes you feel lesser, like you can’t possibly do enough for your health or for your family’s health, or makes your already-long to-do list feel even longer, try this instead: JUST SKIP IT. DO LESS. FIND A SHORTCUT. Try something different. I promise you this: Eating healthfully could be so much easier for all of us if we just took the pressure off of ourselves and tried something simpler! And since all of us need a support system and an outlet, I’m here to help.
Peace, love, and cauliflower,